The alarm is off at 5:00 a.m., my mind is not. I rise, take that first thankful morning sip of coffee. The delivery of caffeine accelerates thoughts of the pilgrimage I will take to our State’s Capitol later today. The warmth of the cup in my hand gets the fingers working, such heat is psychologically powerful if nothing else. This cup joins me as a nest into the couch beneath the lamp at 5:30 to think awhile and enjoy these comforts. In such a state, and on my own in this early hour, I am free to think deeply about all that I may learn while at the ACRES USA conference this week.
ACRES USA, a voice for eco-agriculture, is bringing together some of the worlds finest minds, the nation’s most dedicated practitioners, and many aspiring pupils and curious consumers to discuss the spirit, economy, ecology, and community of the ecological agricultural movement, industry, and lifestyle. Participating in such things; I pray for a reckoning of sorts. I fuel my mind this morning by finishing off a too-long effort of reading “Inquiries into the Nature of Slow Money”. Here its author, Woody Tasch, is calling for a reckoning of sorts, by asking us all to reinvent the globalized consumer culture and its economic systems by reorienting all matters of investing, supply chains, and consumerism with the consideration of food, farms, and fertility as its foundation. He is a keynote speaker on Saturday, and I am glad to have known him through this read prior to our meeting. It is the sort of read that could cause a dramatic “spin out” if one truly tries to comprehend the violence in our current consumer culture, but for me it is validation that a reckoning is coming and there are many out there stoking its fire.
His call, A Paradigm Shift. The call is for “the promotion of percolation over circulation, of diversity over monoculture, of relationship over transaction, and of fertility over profitability.” He calls for “a civilization that does not put its faith in markets at the expense of places.” His message is neither anti-technology or even anti-speed, but rather adversarial to the sort of confusion and violence that occurs when information, markets, and wealth are severed from nature. It merely asks for the opportunity to reintroduce culture to a common commitment of conceptualizing innovation, technology, capital, and science as tools to be wielded in the protection and enhancement of food and farms, through the promotion of the slow and the soil. He asks all of us to support a system that is pro-local, pro-diversity, pro-small….pro-earthworm! With such a call to arms my mind is abuzz with thoughts of how I might apply this in my own endeavors…at this point what smoldering neurons where stirring at the waking hour have now caught fire. His words are shaking. I suite up and head out at daybreak into 15 degree weather to check on our calves.
My hands, feet, and nose are shrouded in frost in little time. The calves backs are laced with icy crystals and they are bawling as I pass by, my truck dash so stiff with the cold I swear it will fracture like the San Andreas with the first pothole I come to in the road. It does not. I return 10 minutes later with a snow-capped bale of hay; they are glad to see me, as they have wallowed the final remains of their last bale for bedding. They dive tongue-first into their new prize, pulling tufts of dried fescue in by the mouthful. I go check their water tank. It is frozen solid. The fuse that powers the tank heater is out, but nature is little forgiving of such failures. With a new fuse and few hours of heat, the water will flow again. The calves will take that water, take that hay, and with some time and some good husbandry from us, convert it into food. Such a situation few get to experience, to misguided others it seems insufferable and cruel to these beasts, but to those of us choosing to slow down and appreciate it, it is actually an incredible miracle. All flesh is grass, and is so in the most seemingly harsh situations. I am charged by the notion that I have the privilege to witness the miracle of creating flesh from grass, no from the sun and soil through grass and into beast, so that others might enjoy it as food and add it to their own being. I am privileged to witness, share, and husband such things. This appreciations seems the sort of awakening Woody is lining out. I can not thank you enough. In supporting our farm, our stewardship, and our family, you in turn support yourselves by making healthy the very community, landscape, body, and mind on which you depend. I am thankful you care enough to support a farm which is pro-local, pro-diversity, and pro-earthworm! I am comforted by such notions, and my heart is warmed.
I carry with me to the conference, my pilgrimage, this week the warmth brought to my mind, heart, and hands. With such a great opportunity, I am anxious of all that can be learned, shared, and brought home to make slow, thoughtful, and healthy our farm, food, and fertility so that you may participate too.
I’ll be back with more after the trip.